The Talented Mrs. Shipley

The Talented Mrs. Shipley  The Talented Mrs. Shipley 1

Don Menn, NARA

Ruth Bielaski Shipley

She looks harmless enough. A photograph shows an elderly woman at a desk in what appears to be paisley and pearls. Her hair is in a matronly updo, her glasses—pince-nez?—frame her gaze downward as she studies a small booklet. It isn't immediately obvious it's a passport.

Mrs. Ruth Bielaski Shipley was chief of the U.S. State Department's Passport Office from 1928 to 1955 after having started as a clerk in 1914. Her power is difficult to